Interesting to see Tom Watson argue today for Labour to come out in full as the anti-Brexit party. My suspicions are that is is driven more by a fear of the ‘resurgent’ Lib Dems and recently quiet, but still potent Brexit party, rather than really trying to shore up the inconsistent stance Labour has taken on Brexit (although that does deal with that too). The combined Lib Dem/Brexit Party threat must be perceived as more potent than the fact that they might stand to lose a lot of voters of a leave variety.
On this weekend’s Coffee House Shots Podcast (and in the Spectator), Katy Balls was musing about a potential early general election, possibly in the autumn. Given that short time scale, it would make sense that Labour want to shore up their stance in the anti-Brexit direction to regain those they think they’ve lost in recent weeks to the parties that have a definite stance.
To me, Jeremy Corbyn’s somewhat indistinct stance on Brexit makes perfect sense. Brexit is not a strict political decision, you can vote left or right and leave or remain, depending on what is important to you. It looks like someone has got wind of something in the offing and decided that something has to be done sooner rather than later about the voters they had obviously lost to both the Lib Dems and Brexit Party, although to me it seems a little late for them to join to the ‘Bollocks to Brexit’ movement.
If there is an autumn election, the feelings that drove people to move away from Labour (and the Conservatives for that matter) to one of the smaller, but definite stance, parties will still be fresh in people’s memories and I rather think that they may well be tempted to keep voting that way, no matter Tom Watson wants.
Several times in the past fortnight, my daily commute to London has been disrupted by signalling issues. It turns out that signalling is part of Network Rail’s jurisprudence, and it came of something of a surprise to me to find out today reading Martin Vender Weyer’s article in this week’s Spectator that Network Rail is in fact completely nationalised. It’s one shareholder a certain Mr Grayling.
The article lists several major cock-ups in recent years that fall to the calamitous Network Rail, not least the new, severely delayed, Crossrail project.
So for all of you left-leaning thinkers under the impression that nationalised businesses are the bees knees, I urge you to think again. Even if they are only as half as bad as Network Rail, the country will surely fall to pieces in very short order.
There’s a good interview with Rory Stewart on the Spectator’s Saturday Coffee House Shots podcast this week, where James Kirkuk quizzes Rory about various things. Funnily enough, the first thing they talk about is the ‘radical centre’ which is basically what I was expounding in yesterday’s post.
Rory discusses his ideas for a government that takes the best of left and right, very much echoing my points. He also goes on to describe how he proposes to get round the Brexit impasse by creating a citizen’s court, which I also think could be a good thing. James Kirkuk seemed less convinced by the idea, but as Rory says, if it doesn’t work, it’s only taking a few weeks out of the process and is a better idea than anyone else has come up with to break the stalemate within Parliament itself.
The one thing I’m not sold on is the term, ‘radical centre’, it sounds like a group that are only interested in the centre ground of politics. Kirkup also runs a think tank that calls itself the Radical Centre, and I agree a lot less with most of the things he tends to come out with (but I’m sure he’s a jolly nice chap).
To me, Rory’s (and my) political stance needs a brand, more than a ronseal title, something that is relatively meaningless, but people can assign values to. As I own Whuff.org (long story, read Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Corey Doctorow to get some idea of where I got that name from), I’ve started to use that as my little playground for further exploring my political ideas. I’m not saying that whuff.org, or the Whuff Party, is the way forward, (phones tend to autocorrect it to whiff for a start), but something along those lines.